UPDATED: Anne Shirley and a craving for friendship

“Oh, Marilla, you’d be excited, too, if you were going to meet a little girl you hoped to be your bosom friend and whose mother mightn’t like you.”

We’ve often heard of the saying “you can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends.” But Anne Shirley — orphaned as a babe and merely taken in grudgingly by neighbors — had neither the opportunity to bear the complexity of family dynamics or the luxury of selecting friends.

Anne learned at a very young age the cruelty and isolation of being friendless. Anne didn’t want friends, she needed them. She needed them so badly she made up imaginary friends out of bookcase reflections and echoes. Here was a person so in need of human interaction that she clung even to those who haven’t particularly warmed up to her (yet). For example, she opened up very very quickly to Matthew and Marilla, despite being relative strangers and in spite of knowing they probably wouldn’t adopt her. Earlier in my Anne-reading years, I chalked this up to her lack of “proper bringing up” and ignorance of social dynamics. Now I think it’s that AND she was just that starved for companionship.

Even as a kid, I was weirded out by Anne’s first encounter with Diana Barry. I mean, who does that — decide in a few swift moments to be bosom buddies for life with a girl whom she just met? Not to mention, make her new bosom buddy take a solemn vow. This extreme lack of caution over whom she’d invest her affections in is dumbfounding and slightly disturbing. But to Anne, friendship was a need, just like food and shelter. And with regard to needs, beggars can’t be choosers.

As Anne grew up and gained some stability in her life in terms of relationships, she did learn to be more discerning in choosing her friends. But that emotionally hungry child in the first few chapters of Anne of Green Gables is a strong illustration of the necessity of friendship.

Personal anecdote:

When I was 5 years old, I was semi-transferred to my grandmother’s house in San Juan while my entire family lived in Quezon City. This was because the school I was enrolled in was in San Juan. The house was isolated in the sense that we had no neighbors. For a 5 year old kid, it was a gigantic house — by my count, it had 7 bedrooms at the time.

Having no other kids in proximity to play with, I resorted to my imagination. I claimed one of the second floor rooms (the yellow painted one) as my playroom. I pretended that the closet was full with dresses and that I had a carriage. And of course, I had an imaginary friend named Becky (based on the Becky character in the animated series, Princess Sarah). Needless to say, I can relate with Anne Shirley — when you can’t have real friends, make up your own.


On My Bedside


Current re-reading: a very worn out copy of Anne’s House of Dreams.

Anne of Ingleside: On Punctuation and Pace

(First things first: Happy 2013! I have sorely neglected this project in the past year — no new posts at all! — and this is me trying to make amends.)

Out of the eight books in the Anne series, it is Anne of Ingleside that is my least favorite. Though full of entertaining and amusing stories of Anne and Gilbert’s brood, what makes the book less enjoyable to read is L.M. Montgomery’s constant use of the ellipsis.

Here’s a sample to refresh your memory:

Dull! Anne almost laughed in her caller’s face. Ingleside dull! With a delicious baby bringing new wonders every day… with visits from Diana and Little Elizabeth and Rebecca Dew to be planned for …with Mrs. Sam Elison of the Upper Glen on Gilbert’s hands with a disease only three people in the world have ever known to have before… with Walter starting school…

As you can see it in the quoted excerpt, Montgomery excessively uses ellipses when she could have very well used commas. This ‘style’ is prevalent throughout the entire book. What this does, for me, is slow the pace of the story and create unnecessary long pauses between complete thoughts. Whenever I reread Anne of Ingleside, I get impatient with the writing — it seems as if every character (as well as the narrator) is constantly taking mental breaks.

I’ve often wondered about why this constant use of ellipses is only present in Anne of Ingleside and not in any of the other Anne books. It is interesting to note that Anne of Ingleside is the last of the series to be published, most likely also last to be written. Perhaps Montgomery tried to experiment with punctuation during the latter period of her writing career (she would soon die a few years after the publication of Anne of Ingleside). Or maybe there wasn’t enough time and attention put into editing it.

Also, Anne of Ingleside seems to lack a level of coherence and tightness evident in the other books. It’s like Montgomery compiled several stories of Anne’s children into one book. Nevertheless, Anne of Ingleside still possesses some pleasurable aspects such as the antics of the infuriating Aunt Mary Maria and the return of Rebecca Dew.

Do you have any theories on Montgomery’s overuse of ellipses in this book? Does it hamper your enjoyment of it in any way? What is your least favorite Anne book? I’d really like to know 🙂

A Mouthful of Anne: Quotes from Anne of Windy Poplars

Anne of Windy Poplars used to be my least favorite Anne book. But as I grew older, I learned to love it. It portrays  a more romantic, more grown-up version of Anne.

The best thing about the book is Rebecca Dew, Little Elizabeth, and Anne’s unexpected friendship with Katherine Brooks.

“It don’t never matter how poor you are as long as you’ve got something to love.”

“When you turn on the light, it makes the dark your enemy…and it glowers in at you resentfully.”

“Always remember, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. It can be done so that the animal’ll never know he’s lost his hide. ”

What are your thoughts on Anne of Windy Poplars?


Dear Maud

Dear Maud,

I read that your friends and family called you “Maud.” Though I was born more than a century after you were, I consider you a friend and I daresay that you would have considered your readers as your kindred spirits.

I have just seen “Julie and Julia” for the 3rd time. You might wonder how this bit of information is relevant to you. Well, Julie Powell, inspired by Julia Child and her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, tackled 524 recipes in 365 days — blogging all the way to completion. While I may not know this for sure, I’d like to think that her project was fueled by love.

Dear Maud, I don’t care for reader count nor a higher page rank. I started this blog because I loved Anne Shirley and the world of Avonlea you’ve created. Anne of Green Gables was the first book that taught me to nurture the spirit of storytelling, imagination, and fancy. I just want to pay tribute to that and hopefully, share the joy.

Thanks to you and your books, I discovered that there could be a place in the world for a kid with a short temper, a loud mouth and a love for daydreaming. Thanks to you, becoming a writer became a very viable option for what to do with the rest of my life. And most of all, you have articulated for me feelings and thoughts I had about friendship, belonging-ness, and melancholy that I didn’t know how to express when I was a kid.

In short, all I want to say is that I am really grateful that you lived and that you wrote the Anne of Green Gables series. I am just one of the many girls whose hearts you’ve touched with your writing. I hope, with all my heart, you are at peace.

From a member of the race that knows Joseph,                                                                 Ilia

Modern Day Annes: Kate Middleton/Duchess of Cambridge

Photo from: REUTERS/Alastair Grant/Pool

Administering CPR to this blog post! I know that I haven’t blogged for this project since last year and that sucks. But with what better news to revive this blog than with a post about the news of England’s new princess loving Anne of Green Gables.

Apparently, Kate requested that they pass through Prince Edward Island on their Canada tour because of its association with Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, as per an unnamed source (yeah, doesn’t sound that reliable but hey, Time reported this story).

Hmmm. With this news and her choice of McQueen (Sarah Burton-designed) wedding dress — I have to say, girl’s got taste!

Read more about Kate’s love for Anne here, here, and here.

A Mouthful of Anne: Quotes from Anne of Avonlea

I apologize for not posting for about two weeks. My bad. Our DSL connection was bust for a week and I lost my momentum.

Here are a few quotes from Anne of Avonlea which I just finished re-reading:

“It does people good to have to do things they don’t like… in moderation.” – Anne Shirley

“November is usually such a disagreeable month… as if the year had suddenly found out she was growing old and  could do nothing but weep and fret over it.” – Anne Shirley

“You’ll hardly fail completely in one day and there’s plenty more days coming.” – Marilla Cuthbert